Reddish Knob and Blue Grass, VA, 6/8/16

All photos are Marshall Faintich

The weather finally cleared as a cool front moved through the area, clearing out the rain and humidity. The temperature was in the upper 50s when Walt Childs and I headed west to the Allegheny Mountains to look for warblers and crossbills on Reddish Knob. It turned out to be a good outing with 47 avian species, including 10 warbler species, but also an expensive trip.

The wind from the cool front was still blowing when we left, and had increased by the time we started the ascent up Briery Branch Road towards the Reddish Knob summit. The wind chill was cold enough that I had to put on a sweatshirt in addition to my photo vest. We saw several species as we drove, including three warblers: Pine, Blackburnian, and Black-throated Green.

Pine Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Blackburnian Warbler

Black-throated Green

American Robin

Brown Thrasher

Chipping Sparrow

Eastern Towhee

When we got to the four way intersection where Red Crossbills gather grit, we didn't see any, but I heard bird chatter in the trees. When I walked over to see what was there, about eight birds flew, and after looking at the quick photos I took, I could see that they were Red Crossbills.

Red Crossbill

We drove up Fire Road 85 away from the summit, where we saw a few more species, including a Yellow-rumped Warbler and an American Redstart.

Yellow-rumped Warbler

American Redstart

We then headed up FR 85 toward the Reddish Knob summit. There were leaves and small branches all over the narrow gravel road, and I was concerned that the strong wind might cause a branch to fall on my car, or even worse, would down a large branch across the road blocking our exit, as we were well out of cellular phone service areas. We saw very few birds as we drove. They were either hunkered down from the wind, or had flown to lower elevations. When we arrived at the road about 1/4 mile from the summit, we looked a bit for birds, and decided that we should head back down. When we got to the four road intersection, we decided to take County Road 25 down the West Virginia side of Reddish Knob, continue to Route 220, and then take Route 17 to Wimer Mountain Road in the Blue Grass Valley to look for Golden-winged and other warbler species there.

We stopped a few times down the mountain when we heard birds, and at one stop , a pair of Black-throated Blue Warblers were singing to each other on opposite sides of the road, and a Worm-eating Warbler was singing a bit farther back in the woods, but we didn't get a good look at either of these warbler species. About 2 miles before reaching Route 220, a large deer ran out in front of my car. I tried to stop in time, but the right front of the car hit the hind quarter of the deer. The deer took off, and we got out to look at the broken headlight and dented hood of my car. At least Walt and I were okay, and the car was driveable, as we were miles from anywhere and had no cellular phone service.

When we got to Wimer Mountain Road, we add three more warbler species: some good views of a pair of Common Yellowthroats, and very quick views of a Yellow Warbler and a Golden-winged Warbler, as well as several other avian species.

Common Yellowthroat

Common Yellowthroat

Yellow Warbler

Golden-winged Warbler

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

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